Replies: 15 - Last Post: Apr 26, 2012 10:53 PM Last Post By: peloblanco
Apr 23, 2012 9:53 AM
$$$ Q!!!Hi all!
So I;m going to Cuba for the first time in a few weeks. I know that I need to bring all my cash with me because debit/credit cards wont work. I was just wondering how much everyone would recommend that I bring. I'm going only for 1 week but plan on travelling around as much as possible and doing a few more expensive things like hang gliding, hiking.. I normally travel on the very cheap in terms of hostels and food so don't plan on splurging there. Also I def want to get some souvenirs, no cigars or rum really because I have to bring it back to the USA, but def some posters/trinkets/gifts.
AND another random question, can I send postcards to the USA from Cuba?
Any advice would be awesome!
Thanks a ton!
Apr 23, 2012 10:30 AM
1Ags: I am really not trying to be a smart ass, but:
Here are some simple tips about looking for information:
1. Research before asking a question. It will help you get better, more detailed and useful answers from the community if you've already done some homework. It's also polite. The community is here to help, but we're not your personal search engine. Invest some preliminary time and we'll help you fill in the gaps.
2. Explore Lonely Planet's Destinations online, which has a wealth of key info and tips.
3. Have a good look around the Thorn Tree before asking your question - quite often your question (or one very similar to it) will have been asked and answered many times already.
4. When you're ready to ask a question, choose the relevant country from the drop down menu to ensure the most relevant and accurate responses. Be specific with your needs and requirements (ex. price range, interests, experience, etc.)
Apr 23, 2012 10:39 AM
2I actually did look around for quite a bit before I posted. I've been doing research and have posted here before and had some very nice and helpful people respond. I'm not sure what the harm in asking a quick question to people is especially considering I have tried to find my answers already. And also, i believe I did post in the correct country and answered any questions that might have to do with past experiences/interests.
So.. I would appreciate a straight forward answer/advice if possibe.
Apr 23, 2012 10:59 AM
3Ags: I hope I did not sound too strong.............
planning on $100 per day is continually recommended here. Of course, have some reserve.
actually the Caribbean Transfers debit card, frequently discussed here, will work in Cuba
There is no such thing as a hostel in Cuba, except one in Havana and it gets few recommendations. Casa particulars are the preferred alternative.
No souvenirs, other than art, are allowed to be brought in the US. However, US Customs seldom looks.
You can send postcards from Cuba to the US, but last weeks discussion indicates it is a matter of 3-4 weeks before they will be delivered.
Hiking is cheap in Cuba. Do tell us about how you found hang gliding there.
Apr 23, 2012 11:06 AM
4I'm from the UK and have just got back from Cuba, and I spent just under £600 in 2 weeks. I took £500 cash and exchanged it bit by bit at cadecas, then got out another £100 inside the bank in Vinales with a UK debit card. The last £100 was really just to make sure I didn't run out. I was in Cuba with my husband staying in casas (25 - 30 CUC each night). The money was more than enough for 3 bus journeys (Havana - Vinales - Trinidad - Havana), eating out every night, lots of cocktails, 2 tours at about 35 CUC each, a few presents, souvenirs and a bottle of rum, and a bit left over to change back to £ at the airport. I wish I'd taken the whole £600 in cash as we had to wait over an hour at the bank (big queues). It felt safer than I thought having so much cash as the casas we stayed in all had locked rooms, one had a safe, and the families were always around so not much risk of a break in. We also locked the money in our suitcases. Each time we changed around £100 at the cadeca, we went straight back to the casa and locked up the money.
So if you take the equivalent of £300 - 350 in your currency for 1 week you should be fine. Maybe a bit more to be safe if the casas you are staying in have safes as you can always take it home if you have too much. Bit more if you're doing more than 2 hikes/tours (that's all we did).
No idea about postcards to the US.
Apr 23, 2012 12:49 PM
5While I agree with you, Bob, that a little research goes a long way, I have to intervene on the behalf of this and other posters and point out that the Thorntree's search feature is hardly google-level. It hsas lots of "issues". That is especially true when it comes to the sorts of questions this OP is raising.
The information money-related that is being asked about should be in the FAQ for this thread but has consistently been rejected for placement there. If anyone is in doubt about that need, then please note that this is hardly the first thread that begins by asking exactly that in the last week or so and that we have another American who is oblivious to his options as a result of the bad advice so often offered here. As a result, I have had to regurgitate this vital information for Americans traveling to Cuba ad nauseum. I have also, and even more reluctantly, become the American who retrieves the ever-present deflections about these facts that a chosen few keep coming up with here.
If moving through the world with large chunks of cash is your concern, and it should be anyone's primary concern both at home but most especially while traveling, then there really are only two options available to you. See Caribbean Transfers Debit Card and American Express Travelers Checks below
There are essentially four options available to Americans re handling their money:
Bringing Cash in the form of American Dollars (USD). That's perhaps the worst option. If you end up with $870 CUC for every $1000 USD, you will have done very well. You will also now have a wad of cash in your hand which, if lost or stolen, cannot be replaced.
Exchanging USD for CAD or EUR in the US, bringing that to Cuba and exchanging it for CUC. There are so many variables in this process that any exact figure is impossible to quote, but something in the range of $890-940 CUC per $1000 USD is about right. As with #1 above, you will now have a wad of cash in your hand which, if lost or stolen, cannot be replaced.
The Caribbean Transfers Debit Card (Travel Card). This is a debit card issued by a Canadian Company which permits you to open a free debit card account and to deposit USD into with Cashiers Checks, Int'l Money Orders or Credit Cards. The Credit Card option being more costly than the first two options. For other than Credit Card deposits, you will receive about $917 CUC for each $1000 USD. The card is picked up at the airport when you arrive, and can be used in over 8000 locations all over Cuba with no additional fees ever being charged.
NOTE: They only post their rates for credit card deposits online. Deposits using Int'l Money Orders or Cashiers Checks are much more favorable, e.g. $1090 USD nets you $1000 CUC. Ask them to email you that chart and they will.
American Express Travelers Checks. These return a very respectable $931 CUC per $1000 but there are a few important caveats regarding Amex TCs
1. They can be redeemed in Cuba but not nearly as readily as one can use the CT card. The further you get from any tourist center, e.g. Havana, the harder it is to find places that will accept them. Hotels are more likely to cash them than most banks.
2. You may need to have the original receipt for their purchase with you if you want to cash them. Keep the receipt separate from the TCs until you are ready to redeem them. That way, if they go missing no one else will be able to redeem them and you will have the numbers of the checks to insure you can get your money back when you get back to the US.
2. If the Amex TCs are lost or stolen, you will not be able to get a refund for them until after you return to the US. As far as Cuba goes, their theft is equivalent to having your cash stolen.
I recommend you put about as much money into your CT account as you think you will need and then buy a bunch more Amex TCs than you think will be necessary. Use up the CUCs in the CT account and then fall back on the TCs. That eliminates the possibility of having any unusable CUCs left over. Whatever extra TCs you have can be easily cashed when you get back to the US.
Apr 23, 2012 5:04 PM
Apr 23, 2012 6:00 PM
7Re money there are a ton of posts here re. the pros and cons of what elements/proportion to take of - cash(e.g. CAD or Euros or USD), Debit card or Travellers Checks. Ultimately your call taking into account your own personal needs, trip length etc etc..
Do report back on your hang gliding experiences.
Apr 23, 2012 6:00 PM
Apr 23, 2012 6:20 PM
Apr 23, 2012 6:36 PM
Apr 23, 2012 8:08 PM
11You do a mental budget and conclude that there it no way one could spend the equivalent of $100 per day. Then it happens.
LMAO. Es Cuba, no? It is precisely the reason anyone visiting there, even the most experienced of us, needs to have some means of replenishing our budgeted funds before setting our "dry foot" into Havana.
At the risk of raising the ire of so many here for whom this whole issue is not a dire concern, most of us Americans have only one option for accomplishing that........
Caribbean Transfers , like it or not, is our ONLY real option for accomplishing that. There simply is no other way for an American to add to whatever funds they have budgeted and carried into Cuba with them, without jumping through all sorts of flaming hoops, and at vacation-wrecking levels. Why would anyone pretend that there might be any reason for doing that, given how easy a risk it is to avoid?
If you are NOT an American, or you are an American who has many other options, then please bow out of this issue. Please acknowledge the fact that almost every American who visits Cuba has to live within fiscal strictures that you do not. They deserve to be made aware of the unique restrictions they face. That impartion of information should occur in a smarm-free environment and emanate from those who have some actual experience of the options involved. Hearsay evidence is not allowed in a court of law for a lot of reasons and should not be granted equal status to actual experience here either.
Have a great trip, Bob! I'm expect to hear all about it.
Apr 25, 2012 8:49 AM
12I have sent Postcards and letters from Cuba to USA and Canada with a 90% success rate
it usually takes around 2-4 weeks to get to its destination
Tip: dont mail anything of Value...and not just economic value but sentimental aswell :-) as cuban mail can be uncertain at times and you dont want to lose anything you can replace
Apr 25, 2012 4:01 PM
13I just got back from Cuba today. I went to many different places( banks, cadecas, hotels), the best exchange rate I was able to get for AE travelers checks was 860 CUC for 1000 usd. That's worse than usd cash. This was a very recent change in the exchange rate, I believe it started on April 14, the day before I arrived. I will never bring AE travelers checks again.
The Caribbean transfer card worked great
Apr 25, 2012 4:11 PM
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